Ban lifted on ‘rebel’ 19

Lasana Liburd
Date Published: 
Trinidad Express

TTFF still to discuss committee's report

THE Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) yesterday lifted their ban on 19 national footballers who walked out of a training session in protest at the conditions.

The players had insisted that their training conditions were well below international standards and also argued for match fees.

They also demanded a players' association recognised by the T&TFF.

In the end, though, it was the players who found themselves under the microscope as the local governing body banned the group pending an investigation from a three member committee.

The committee—which is chaired by Sandra Basheer and includes Joey Carew and Omar Khan—submitted their recommendations to the T&TFF on Thursday.

This report, according to general secretary Richard Groden, will be discussed by the T&TFF executive committee from 9.30 am on March 16 at their Dundonald Street office.

“In the meantime,” stated the T&TFF release, “the Football Federation has decided to lift with immediate effect, the suspension which has been imposed on the 19 players.”

Still, a representative for the players, who chose to remain anonymous, insisted that they had not forgotten their initial concerns which included the provision of ice bags, meals, medicine kits and sports drinks.

“Under what conditions are they being asked back?” asked the representative. “As far as I know, they are not going out to train unless things change. If not, then nothing they did would have made sense.

“They would have just wasted a month.”

Ex-magistrate and former Association of Football Supporters of Trinidad and Tobago (AFSOTT) president George Hislop urged the players to return to the national set up and use their players' association to fight their cases.

Hislop also advised the players to focus on raising the awareness of the public and vital interest groups like the Ministry of Sports and the Chamber of Commerce.

However, he stopped short of asking them to return to the same conditions that they left.

“If the conditions remain the same,” said Hislop, “I would say they should ask to reconvene the committee...

“They have to protect their health and their welfare.”

Shaun Fuentes, T&TFF press officer, explained that although both parties have not yet found common ground regarding match fees, the players should return to improved conditions.

“The fact that the federation has lifted the suspension means that all this will be looked after,” said Fuentes. There is still no assurance that any of the 19 players would be invited to rejoin the national team before the final Concacaf Gold Cup qualifying phase from March 26-30.

“Soca Warriors” technical director Hannibal Najjar could not be reached for comment although manager George Joseph said they were only informed yesterday and had not yet formed an opinion.

CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh stopper Brent Sancho, who has 14 full international caps, is anxious to put the matter behind him.

“I guess it's a move in the right direction,” said Sancho. “Hopefully we can get this behind us soon so we can concentrate on football.

“As I said before, every footballer's dream is to represent his country.”

The other 18 re-instated players are Lyndon Andrews, Gary Glasgow, Keyeno Thomas, Travis Mulraine, Cyd Gray, Kelvin Jack, Nigel Daniel, Josh Johnson, Trent Noel, Silvio Spann, Brian James, Uz Taylor, Cornell Glen, Collin Roberts, Ian Gray, Hollis Brown, Sean Julien and Jeremy Delpino.